Sheets pitched a five-hitter for his career-high 13th win and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the San Diego Padres 1-0 on Saturday night.
But it came very close to turning out much differently.
With a runner at third and two outs in the bottom of the second, Sheets hit a bouncer back to Jake Peavy to end the inning. As Sheets walked off the field, his right hand was throbbing.
"Jake Peavy threw him a slider that he hit off the end of the bat," Brewers manager Ned Yost said. "If you ever played baseball and got one of those real stingers in your finger, it hurts so bad from your fingers that you want to throw up."
Sheets (13-7) didn't complain, but before the Padres batted, he left the mound and knelt with his back to the plate.
Home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth and Yost came out to talk with Sheets, who rapidly snapped the fingers on his right hand. After a bit, Yost returned to the dugout while Culbreth visited Padres manager Bud Black to explain the situation.
Yost said Sheets' hand was totally numb and that he had no feeling in his fingers.
"I think he lost feeling in his fingers from his at-bat," Black said. "The ball off the end of the bat, that can ring you. I think Fieldin just wanted to give him as much time to get the feeling back in his hands as to not put anybody in jeopardy if they got up there and Sheets couldn't feel the ball."
Sheets walked the next batter, but then slowly regained the feeling in his fingers and retired the following three.
"My fingers went numb and it took a pretty long time to get back the feeling," Sheets said. "They gave me a little time, and it helped out a lot."
He struck out seven in his fourth career shutout -- third this season -- and 18th career complete game.
Sheets outpitched Peavy (9-10), who allowed a run and five hits with four walks in seven innings. It was just the third time this season in 25 starts that Peavy walked four or more batters.
"Ben's as good as anybody in the game when he's on," Peavy said after notching his 19th quality start of the year. "He's dominating. Tonight, obviously he had it. Sheets was too good for us tonight."
Black said that Peavy's pitched well, but doesn't have the record to show for his efforts.
"All year, the run support just hasn't been there," Black said.
The Padres had scored 3.69 runs per game to support Peavy, the fourth-lowest mark for any NL starter.
Prince Fielder's RBI double in the third accounted for the only run for the Brewers, who fell five games behind the first-place Chicago Cubs in the NL Central.
The Padres lost for the fifth time in six games.
Sheets is in his eighth season marked by six stints on the disabled list.
While he missed one start on April 23 due to soreness in his right triceps and left his last start early with tightness in his right groin, Sheets has otherwise stayed healthy this year. He threw 120 pitches in this one, 82 for strikes.
Sheets was 12-5 in 2007 and 12-14 in 2004.
In his last start Sept. 1, he allowed just two hits in five scoreless innings against the New York Mets. He left the game in a precautionary move when he felt tightness in his left groin.
Sheets retired nine of the first ten before Luis Rodriguez singled leading off the fourth. Sheets got the next seven before Rodriquez doubled with two out in the sixth. He also had an infield single to start the ninth.
Sheets had never beaten the Padres in four previous starts.
Chase Headley singled in the seventh and the ninth. His hit in the ninth advanced pinch runner Jody Gerut to third with two outs, but Will Venable grounded out to second as the sellout crowd of 42,667 screamed in support.
- CF Mike Cameron missed the game due to a sore left knee. He's day-to-day. Brewers manager Ned Yost said that it was nothing serious.
- 2B Rickie Weeks made a fully extended, diving stab of a liner off the bat of Headley. "It saved a run," Yost said. "That's the best play I've ever seen Rickie make."
- Sheets is second in the NL in complete games this season and trails teammate CC Sabathia who has six. Sheets is tied for the NL lead with Sabathia in shutouts with three.